Vega Tenor Banjo

Vega Tenor Banjo

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This banjo was made by the Vega Company in Boston, Massachusetts, around 1929. It is a Four-String Banjo, Soloist Model, Serial #87500, with a seven-lap laminated maple rim, gold-finish top hoop and hooks, new design flanges and 28 brackets, patented Tu-ba phone tone tube and bracket band in a nickel finish. The neck is made of maple, peghead with mother of pearl inlay, ebony fingerboard with pearl inlay position marks, and 22 frets. Gold-finish gear pegs with white pearloid buttons, gold-finish tailpiece. The resonator is made of a maple five ply laminated shell and rim. The dowel stick is stamped:

[Vega star]
[Vega star]
DEC 30.1890
JAN 10. 1893
JULY 27.1909

This banjo features the following patents:

U. S. Patent #443510 dated December 30, 1890, by Albert C. Fairbanks, for new and useful improvements in banjos.

U. S. Patent #489470 dated January 10, 1893, by Albert C. Fairbanks, for new and useful improvements in banjos.

U. S. Patent #928948 dated July 27, 1909, by David L. Day, assignor to the Vega Company, for an improved means for stretching and retaining the head of a banjo.

The ”Soloist” banjo is described in a 1928 Vega catalog:

“The new Soloist model is designed to offer the finest tonal qualities, characteristic of all Vegaphones, with an attractive flashing appearance. This model is the ideal instrument for the player who desires a combination of superior tone and a flashing golden appearance.”

This make and style of the Soloist Vegaphone banjo was listed for $200.00.

Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
date made
ca 1929
Vega Company
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
maple (overall material)
metal (overall material)
ebony (overall material)
mother of pearl (overall material)
animal skin (overall material)
overall: 34 in x 13 1/2 in x 3 1/4 in; 86.36 cm x 34.29 cm x 8.255 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Adam Gallan
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Dear folks, I have a four string Soloist banjo but I cannot find the location of the se#. Could you please help me locate the location,
You need to remove the resonator. Serial numbers are stamped on the crossbar and the wood rim.

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